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Review: Bushnell Tour X Jolt

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Pros: Stunningly simple to use despite its slew of premium features. Gear heads and tournament players will love Bushnell’s new Exchange Technology, which allows users to switch the rangefinder from a slope-and-distance device to a tournament-legal, distance-only device.

Cons: It’s fractionally larger and heavier than its competition, Leupold’s GX-4i2.

Who’s it for? If you don’t mind spending top dollar ($499) on a rangefinder, this is the one you buy. The Tour X is best for golfers who want a highly accurate, easy-to-use laser rangefinder and are interested in learning more about the way elevation changes affect their shots.

The Review

IMG_7311

The Tour X in Slope Mode.

  • Accuracy: 0.5 yards (0.1 yards from 5-100 yards)
  • Range: 5-1300 yards (450+ yards to a flag)
  • Magnification: 6x
  • Rainproof: Yes
  • Warranty: 2 years
  • Battery Included: Yes (CR2)

Bushnell’s Tour X Jolt rangefinder is a testament to how far rangefinder design has advanced in recent years, offering golfers Bushnell’s best premium features while keeping operation as simple as possible.

The newest and most noteworthy of the Tour X’s features is its Exchange Technology, which uses removable face plates (one red, one black) to allow the rangefinder to function as a two-in-one product.

Install the red face plate, which covertly connects to a USB port on the front of the device, and the rangefinder can calculate straight-line distance to a target, as well as distance that calculates “slope,” or how far uphill or downhill a shot is “playing.” Please note that this mode does not conform to the rules of golf, but is used by many golfers — including top professionals — to learn more about the courses they play before they tee it up in tournaments.

IMG_7315

In case you need a reminder that Slope Mode doesn’t conform to the rules of golf…

If you’re a stickler for the rules, or happen to be playing in an event that allows rangefinders, simply install the black face plate to make the rangefinder conforming. Both face plates are easy to install, and lock in with a satisfying “click” that lets you know they’re secure.

From Bushnell's Tour X Jolt's product manual.

From Bushnell’s Tour X Jolt’s product manual.

For those technically inclined, below is Bushnell’s literature on how its slope mode works. Keep in mind that Bushnell has been making slope rangefinders for years, and that the Tour X is simply the first product from the company that allows users to switch between slope mode and distance-only mode.

[quote_box_center] The Slope +/-™ mode will automatically compute an angle compensated range based upon distance and slope angle determined by the laser rangefinder and built-in inclinometer. This data is then combined with internal algorithmic formulas dealing with average club use and ball trajectories. The angle compensated range provides direction on how to play the shot. [/quote_box_center]

IMG_7324

The red power button is the “trigger” that activates the unit’s laser to measure yards or meters.

You don’t need to understand the algorithm to know that slope mode will work for you, however. Just ask my playing partners, who started requesting not just the actual yardage on par-3 tee boxes, but the slope yardage as well. It didn’t matter how much elevation change there was on a particular hole, either. Even on the relatively flat courses that are typical in Southeastern Michigan, the Tour X provided slope readings that highlighted shots playing just a few yards yards uphill or downhill. That’s valuable information to have — especially if you’re in between clubs.

Some people might say that level of precision is overkill, but why wouldn’t you want the most accurate possible information if you could have it? For example, I learned that many of the shots at my home course that I thought were flat were actually slightly uphill or downhill, reaffirming member suspicions that certain holes always play a little longer or shorter than the yardage.

IMG_7312

Slide the Dual Display button to the left for a black display, and to the right for a red display.

One thing that’s important to mention about the Tour X’s slope mode is how the slope measurement appears onscreen, because it’s brilliantly executed. When you depress the power button — the trigger that activates the unit’s laser — and identify your target with the aiming circle on the unit’s display, you’ll get the straight-line yardage to your target. It’s not until you release the power button that you get the slope yardage, which is shown below the original number and alternates with the amount of slope (in degrees) that was used along with the yardage to calculate the slope distance.

Screen Shot 2015-08-13 at 2.25.44 PM

Image from Bushnell Golf

Another new feature is the Tour X’s Dual Display technology, which allows users to choose between a bright-red display and a less-jarring black display. I prefer the black display except in low-light conditions, which I found to be crisper and easier to read.

It should be noted that the Tour X’s red display is nowhere near as bright or as sharp as the Leupold’s GX-4i2, which is the other premium rangefinder that golfers should consider if they’re looking for a unit that measures slope and can still be configured for tournament use. If brightness is what you’re after, it’s the leader in the club house.

IMG_7319

The Tour X with its black face plate, which is legal for play in tournaments that allow rangefinders.

One of my favorite features of the rangefinder, which is a carry over from previous models, is its Jolt technology. For most golfers, it will be far more confidence inspiring than a slope reading, because it can mean the difference in 20 or 30 yards instead of 2 or 3. Jolt engages when a golfer locks onto a flag, and causes the rangefinder to buzz twice. That’s great reassurance that you’ve locked onto the correct target, and not a tree behind the green.

The Takeaway

If you’re not interested in a slope rangefinder, you don’t need the Tour X. There are more affordable options from Bushnell and its competitors that will offer a much better value. Top models include Bushnell’s Tour Z6 Jolt ($399), which is slightly smaller than Tour X, and bargain hunters will likely lean toward Bushnell’s Tour v3 ($299), which is Bushnell’s best-value rangefinder.

If you’re new to slope and interested in what it can do for your game, however, the Tour X’s Exchange Technology and premium features can justify its $499 price point. It will give you the most accurate yardages possible, along with the worthwhile features of Jolt and Dual Display without compromising ease of use.

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Zak is the Editor-in-Chief of GolfWRX.com. He's been a part of the company since 2011, when he was hired to lead GolfWRX's Editorial Department. Zak developed GolfWRX's Featured Writer Program, which supports aspiring writers and golf industry professionals. He played college golf at the University of Richmond (Go Spiders!) and still likes to compete in tournaments. You can follow Zak on Twitter @ZakKoz, where he's happy to discuss his game and all the cool stuff that's part of his job.

11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Pingback: Bushnell Tour X Jolt Review | Medway Golf Blogger

  2. Dave S

    Aug 17, 2015 at 2:06 pm

    Navy SEAL snipers use Leupold optics… think I’ll go with that, thanks.

    • Desmond

      Aug 18, 2015 at 3:15 am

      We’re looking for a flag … not a hidden enemy. Gheez.

      Ysed the Tour X for 3 months. Great. And it is not as large as it seems in the pictures. It is small, have a hard time finding it in the bag pocket where it hides.

  3. Nick

    Aug 15, 2015 at 11:18 pm

    I will say that when I was in college my coach had a laser that measures slope and that helped immensely in being confident in pulling the right club for the shot. It helps when you know the hole plays (+/-) 10 yards.

  4. John

    Aug 15, 2015 at 4:53 pm

    Bushnell has some really nice optics, but for the price you can get much more. Their name carries their price. For a lot cheaper, you can get the same amount of utility.

    • Doc Todd

      Aug 17, 2015 at 6:05 am

      Such as? I have a Leupold, which was a little cheaper, but I waffled between these two.

    • Doc Todd

      Aug 17, 2015 at 6:09 am

      Zac,
      Can you compare this to the equivocal Leupold scope with slope function? I ended up going with the Leupold GX-4 due to slightly cheaper cost and the salesman at GS pushing me that way a little bit. I also noted battery life shorter on the Bushnell than the Leupold. Thanks!

      • Zak Kozuchowski

        May 13, 2016 at 10:00 am

        It’s close, Doc Todd. Usually it comes down to personal preference, or a user placing importance on one specific feature over another, as you did battery life.

        One thing to note is that Leupold’s slope feature is customizable based on a player’s specific club distances. Most will say that Bushnell wins the ease-of-use battle, though.

  5. Mark

    Aug 15, 2015 at 4:50 pm

    Yeah, but if you’re a good player, you know the necessity to know your distances and understand your gapping. Even poor golfers can eventually benefit from knowing yardage. And a good golfer in a practice round, assuming he’s not a PGA Tour professional who has already had a caddie walk out the yardages and use a rangefinder prior to the practice round, will use some method to figure out distances to hazards and key positions. I hope you don’t assume pros go out there blind.

  6. Scooter McGavin

    Aug 15, 2015 at 11:46 am

    I’ll be honest, I still don’t understand the point of having slope in a range finder. If you’re a good golfer and play in tournaments you’re going to want to always practice the way you’re going to play in tournaments… without slope. If you’re not a good golfer then 1)slope is just going to confuse you and 2)you have more important issues to focus on before you worry about slope. Seems like a waste of an extra hundred dollars or more to me.

    • Mark in L'ville, KY

      Aug 15, 2015 at 3:03 pm

      If you play competitively, you generally have the opportunity (like Pros) to play practice rounds. During those rounds, it’s extremely helpful to use the slope feature so that when you get into tournament play, assuming you’re hitting your shots within the same areas of your practice rounds, you will already know that you should play more or less club because of the slope factor. Even if you don’t play competitively, surely there are a few “practice” rounds where you could use it for future knowledge on several of the regular course you may play.

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Accessory Reviews

Top-3 men’s golf polos at the 2018 PGA Fashion Show in Vegas

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GolfWRX’s fashion expert Jordan Madley picks her top-3 favorite men’s polo shirts from the recent 2018 PGA Fashion Show in Las Vegas. Enjoy the video below!

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Accessory Reviews

I tried the great Golfboarding experiment… here’s how it went

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Corica Park Golf Course is not exactly the first place you’d expect to find one of the most experimental sports movements sweeping the nation. Sitting on a pristine swath of land along the southern rim of Alameda Island, deep in the heart of the San Francisco Bay, the course’s municipal roots and no-frills clubhouse give it an unpretentious air that seems to fit better with Sam Snead’s style of play than, say, Rickie Fowler’s.

Yet here I am, one perfectly sunny morning on a recent Saturday in December planning to try something that is about as unconventional as it gets for a 90-year-old golf course.

It’s called Golfboarding, and it’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like: an amalgam of golf and skateboarding, or maybe surfing. The brainchild of surfing legend Laird Hamilton — who can be assumed to have mastered, and has clearly grown bored of, all normal sports — Golfboarding is catching on at courses throughout the country, from local municipal courses like Corica Park to luxury country clubs like Cog Hill and TPC Las Colinas. Since winning Innovation Of the Year at the PGA Merchandising Show in 2014, Golfboards can now be found at 250 courses and have powered nearly a million rounds of golf already. Corica Park currently owns eight of them.

The man in pro shop gets a twinkle in his eyes when our foursome tells him we’d like to take them out. “Have you ridden them before?” he asks. When we admit that we are uninitiated, he grins and tells us we’re in for a treat.

But first, we need to sign a waiver and watch a seven-minute instructional video. A slow, lawyerly voice reads off pedantic warnings like “Stepping on the golfboard should be done slowly and carefully” and “Always hold onto the handlebars when the board is in motion.” When it cautions us to “operate the board a safe distance from all…other golfboarders,” we exchange glances, knowing that one of us will more than likely break this rule later on.

Then we venture outside, where one of the clubhouse attendants shows us the ropes. The controls are pretty simple. One switch sends it forward or in reverse, another toggles between low and high gear. To make it go, there’s a throttle on the thumb of the handle. The attendant explains that the only thing we have to worry about is our clubs banging against our knuckles.

“Don’t be afraid to really lean into the turns,” he offers. “You pretty much can’t roll it over.”

“That sounds like a challenge,” I joke. No one laughs.

On a test spin through the parking lot, the Golfboard feels strong and sturdy, even when I shift around on it. It starts and stops smoothly with only the slightest of jerks. In low gear its top speed is about 5 mph, so even at full throttle it never feels out of control.

The only challenge, as far as I can tell, is getting it to turn. For some reason, I’d expected the handlebar to offer at least some degree of steering, but it is purely for balance. The thing has the Ackerman angle of a Mack Truck, and you really do have to lean into the turns to get it to respond. For someone who is not particularly adept at either surfing or skateboarding, this comes a little unnaturally. I have to do a number of three-point turns in order to get back to where I started and make my way over to the first tee box.

We tee off and climb on. The fairway is flat and wide, and we shift into high gear as we speed off toward our balls. The engine had produced just the faintest of whirrs as it accelerated, but it is practically soundless as the board rolls along at full speed. The motor nevertheless feels surprisingly powerful under my feet (the drivetrain is literally located directly underneath the deck) as the board maintains a smooth, steady pace of 10 mph — about the same as a golf cart. I try making a couple of S curves like I’d seen in the video and realize that high-speed turning will take a little practice for me to get right, but that it doesn’t seem overly difficult.

Indeed, within a few holes I might as well be Laird himself, “surfing the earth” from shot to shot. I am able to hold the handlebar and lean way out, getting the board to turn, if not quite sharply, then at least closer to that of a large moving van than a full-sized semi. I take the hills aggressively (although the automatic speed control on the drivetrain enables it to keep a steady pace both up and down any hills, so this isn’t exactly dangerous), and I speed throughout the course like Mario Andretti on the freeway (the company claims increased pace-of-play as one of the Golfboard’s primary benefits, but on a Saturday in the Bay Area, it is impossible avoid a five-hour round anyway.)

Gliding along, my feet a few inches above the grass, the wind in my face as the fairways unfurl below my feet, it is easy to see Golfboards as the next evolution in mankind’s mastery of wheels; the same instincts to overcome inertia that brought us bicycles, rollerblades, scooters, skateboards, and more recent inventions such as Segways, Hoverboards and Onewheels are clearly manifest in Golfboards as well. They might not offer quite the same thrill as storming down a snowy mountainside or catching a giant wave, but they are definitely more fun than your standard golf cart.

Yet, there are obvious downsides as well. The attendant’s warning notwithstanding, my knuckles are in fact battered and sore by the time we make the turn, and even though I rearrange all my clubs into the front slots of my bag, they still rap my knuckles every time I hit a bump. Speaking of which, the board’s shock absorber system leaves something to be desired, as the ride is so bumpy that near the end I start to feel as if I’ve had my insides rattled. Then there is the unforgivable fact of its missing a cup holder for my beer.

But these are mere design flaws that might easily be fixed in the next generation of Golfboards. (A knuckle shield is a must!) My larger problem with Golfboards is what they do to the game itself. When walking or riding a traditional cart, the moments in between shots are a time to plan your next shot, or to chat about your last shot, or to simply find your zen out there among the trees and the birds and the spaciousness of the course. Instead, my focus is on staying upright.

Down the stretch, I start to fade. The muscles in my core have endured a pretty serious workout, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to muster the strength for my golf swing. It is no coincidence that my game starts to unravel, and I am on the way to one of my worst rounds in recent memory.

Walking off the 18th green, our foursome agrees that the Golfboards were fun — definitely worth trying — but that we probably wouldn’t ride them again. Call me a purist, but as someone lacking Laird Hamilton’s physical gifts, I’m happy to stick to just one sport at a time.

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Accessory Reviews

Review: The QOD Electric Caddy

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If you want an electric golf caddy that doesn’t require that you wear a sensor or carry a remote — one that will be reliable and allow you to focus on your game, and not your cart — then the Australian-manufactured QOD is worth checking out.

The QOD (an acronym for Quality of Design and a nod to its four wheels) is powered by a 14.4-volt lithium battery, good for 36 holes or more on a single charge. It has nine different speeds (with the fastest settings moving closer to jogging velocity) so the QOD can handle your ideal pace, whether that be a casual stroll or a more rapid clip around the course.

The QOD is also built to last. Its injection-molded, aircraft-grade aluminum frame has no welded joints. Steel bolts and locking teeth take care of the hinging points. The battery and frame are both guaranteed for three full years. If you need a new battery after the three-year window, the folks at QOD will replace it at cost.

Its front-wheel suspension gives the QOD a smooth ride down the fairway, and the trolley is easy to navigate with a gentle nudge here and there. The QOD is always in free-wheel mode, so it is smooth and easy to maneuver manually in tight spaces and around the green.

The caddy also features three timed interval modes for situations where you might wish to send it up ahead on its own: when helping a friend find a lost ball or when you will be exiting on the far side of the green after putting, for example. The clip below includes a look at the caddy in timed mode.

When folded, the QOD measures a mere 17-inches wide, 15-inches deep and 12-inches tall.

Another area where the QOD excels is in its small size and portability. When folded, it measures a mere 17-inches wide, 15-inches deep and 12-inches tall, making it the smallest electric caddy on the market.

Folks Down Under have been enjoying the QOD for some time, but it wasn’t until a few years ago when Malachi McGlone was looking for a way to continue walking the course without putting undue strain on an injured wrist that the QOD found U.S. fairways. After first becoming a satisfied customer, McGlone convinced CEO Collin Hiss, who developed the product and oversees its production in Australia, to allow him to distribute and service the QOD here in the states.

The QOD has no self-balancing gyroscope, bluetooth sensor or remote control. Bells and whistles just aren’t its thing — though it does have a USB port for cell phone charging that can come in handy. However, if you are looking for a no-fuss workhorse to move your bag down the fairway, the QOD should be on your radar.

The 2018 model has begun shipping and will be on sale at $1,299 for a limited time. It normally retails at $1,499.

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